The war on drugs sucks, and you and I are funding it. Last year the Colombian government received $1.3 billion from Uncle Sam in mostly military aid to “battle Colombian guerilla coke trafficking,” and this year’s funding isn’t any different. The chasm between what we’re doing in Colombia and what we say we are doing is only getting bigger. The reality of the Colombian situation is far more twisted and disturbing than the picture painted by U.S. drug authorities, so listen up.
The Colombian government’s armed forces are working closely with their right-wing paramilitary self-defense branch, the United Self-Defense Groups, or the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC). The AUC implements U.S.-funded guns, choppers, and training to ruthlessly battle the guerilla resistance, dubbed drug lords but otherwise known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarios de Colombia (FARC).
But evidence that Colombian guerillas are even selling drugs is questionable, Colombian President Andres Pastrana said, “For the moment no proof or evidence exists that the FARC is a drug cartel.” And here’s where it gets really fucked. Peasants in southern Colombia claim that the AUC is offering them big bucks for growing coca. In other words, the U.S. is funding the purchase of cocaine under the guise of battling it. And where do you think all that blow is going? Eight ball in the U.S. pocket.
But hold off on that quaalude for just one sec, there’s more. Besides being a U.S.-backed internal Colombian cartel, the AUC is also guilty of “ethnic cleansing” and essentially playing dirty across the board. On Jan. 3, the AUC paramilitary killed 11 civilians in Yolombo who were accused of being guerilla FARC sympathizers. Remind me who’s funding this again?
And if you’re still not pissed, try this on for size. Tree huggers should know that U.S.-sponsored herbicides are being dumped on tropical rainforests and systematically depleting scores of ecosystems in order to unearth “coca plants and operations.” Does this sound familiar, do I have to spell it out — Vietdeuce. And those chemicals aren’t just maiming rainforests. They are also polluting villages and rendering water sources toxic and needless to say, people are getting sick.
Uncle Sam’s “hard-line” stance on drugs isn’t just wasting taxpayers’ money, it’s killing innocent people in Colombia who are merely accused of guerilla allegiance. At this point I must pose the question, “Who is running this circus, and why?” My theory is that somehow the money given to Colombia is getting laundered back to the U.S. in the form of cocaine. In other words Uncle Sam just got a new hookup. And if that’s the case, then where is the money going? Clinton was a proponent of these operations and the Bush administration isn’t backing down soon either. Bill, how many cigars could you get for $1.3 billion? And if that isn’t enough, dig the hypocrisy — Clinton and Bush both have questionable drug histories. Don’t they feel bad about abusing people for the same shit they did?
Moreover, why does the U.S. have its panties in a bunch about drugs in the first place? I’d like to think that it’s because they’re somehow watching out for our safety, but note that the Drug Enforcement Agency employs agents closely connected with people making drug policy legislation. The government has now become for the government, and not for the people. Who are they to tell us how to manage our own bodies?
The Colombian model underscores skewed U.S. interests. It makes me cringe to think that the same man who backed NATO air strikes on Bosnia in order to “stop ethnic cleansing” ordered it upon Colombia in the same breath. And we went to Kuwait to stop people being hurt too … right. If you’re not infuriated by now, I suggest pulling your head out of your ass.
Scott Mitchell is a freshman film studies major.